It has been some time since my last post about grocery shopping on a budget but I am still approached by people on a regular basis that marvel at how it works. Look, if I had teenagers in the house then undoubtedly our budget would have to be much bigger. Our budget for weekly groceries has been, and continues to be, $52.50. With my wife and two kids(8 and 6) this is a manageable number. As a family our income has not changed substantially in the last couple years so why should our budget change…even though costs are definitely on the rise.(Don’t get me started about inflation!)
Those people who are masters of coupon clipping impress the heck out of me. I know my limitations, and my attention span could not possibly put the dedication necessary for that kind of hobby. That and, in the end, you have eat what you get.
Nutritional poverty is withholding proper levels of nutrition from your body in lieu of something filling but devoid of significant positive benefit for your continued existence. The old axiom garbage in, garbage out comes to mind. I believe a lot of people suffer from nutritional poverty which has NOTHING to do with financial poverty because it can claim people from all levels of financial means. In the end it’s about making choices to keep your body functioning properly. FYI, I am not a food ogre, demanding strict adherence to the best of the best. I’m more realistic than that.
The best way for me to show you how to save is to break down our family’s grocery bill and explain the choices:
The first receipt is from Aldi, a chain of stores that’s reportedly owned by a relative of the owner of Trader Joe’s. I really don’t care who owns it. It’s not owned by Walmart so I don’t really care.
Fresh veggies and fruit, when the farmers market is closed for the season, is an expensive but necessary piece of nutrition. Aldi is my go to place when I can’t buy fresh from a produce stand because they consistently deliver fruits and veg well below the prices we see at the local big box grocery stores. Love that!My “chicken scratch” notes on the receipt mark the qty/volume of items since it’s not itemized.
- Milk was almost a whole $1 cheaper here than in the other main grocery store in St Cloud, Cash Wise.
- Flour Tortillas…well, I’ve got a pretty good recipe for that that is easy to make and uses whole wheat for added dietary fiber but in a pinch when there is no time and you need food right away it’s good to have some in the freezer.
- Fuji Apples, Navel Oranges – Buying in a pre-portioned sack will usually save you some coin in the end and it won’t kill you to look through the sacks to find one that has less blemishes. Bruised apples make great apple pies and crisps anyway so maybe it’s not such a bad thing. I paid $1.10/# for apples and $1.16/# for oranges.
- Strawberry Toaster Pastries and Quick Bread – BUSTED! My son likes his toaster pastries in the morning, especially when he is feeling a little undecided. I have see recipes for this but have not yet tried one yet. Sometime. For the mean time $1.89 for 12 is about .20 more than the 6 count at the other store. No brainer. The quick bread was Apple Cinnamon Swirl for $1.49. Even I have lazy moments in the kitchen. This kind of purchase is a rarity.
- Tomatoes, Pears, and Baking Soda – Staple ingredients to a whole hold or homemade delights. If you have no options of course you’ll pick canned tomatoes and pears.
In the end, 10 times for just under $20 is not great but worth the stop since it trimmed about $5.10 off the cost of these items if they had be bought at the big box store.
Normally I would include a trip to the Country Hearth bread store on the east side but we didn’t really need bread this week as the freezer was still pretty full. Also skipped this week was Gopher Bargain Center. That place is like the general store of scratch and dent merchandise but has a wide selection of harder to find specialty items as reduced prices.
- Check out the fact that, of the 21 items, 13 were on sale or reduced pricing. That is how you make it on a budget. Buy what you can with what you have even if it’s not on the meal plan for the next couple weeks. If it’ll keep then save it.
- Pizza crusts – I’ve been trying our my own crust recipes lately but it’s nice to have one, or in this case two, in the event you want to make a calzoneon short notice. 50 cents is nothing to sneer at since the yeast and flour to make it yourself will likely set you back that much anyway.
- Reduced Sodium Taco Seasoning, Baked Beans – Staple meal ingredients. Beans were of course on sale.
- Frozen Turkey – Don’t bother lecturing me about what’s in ground turkey. I know, but it’s much healthier and cheaper alternative to other ground animal products and…I don’t eat beef.
- Reduce Pork? – If I tell you that Cashwise puts all their close to “sell by” meats on sale on Wednesday please don’t rush there and scoop my deals. Actually, this day appears to be a company wide sale bonanza. We’ve gotten ground turkey, pork, chicken, ribs, and even BACON in the”special cooler. Take it home and freeze it but just get there early enough in the morning because by noon it’s usually picked clean except the odd cow tongue or pig’s foot. Eeew.
Produce – Well, sometimes you have to buy at a regular price so the curly haired college kid who works in the produce department can keep his job. Go Huskies! (Local college team in case you were wondering)
Greek Yogurt – Yogurt is so hard to find without aspartame that I almost gave up on it all together. I want fatted yogurt with all the real sugar and fruits in it but that is a rare animal indeed. Instead Cashwise has recently launched their own house label yogurt called Nostimo. For three of the last four weeks it has been on sale and it has no aspartame. Joy!
BAKERY! – If you don’t know there is a day old rack of bread in your grocery store then you better find it and the day of the week they fill it. All manner of artisan breads and pastries can be found on the day old rack at Cashwise. Last week it was Siebenfelder this week a long loaf of French bread. That is so worth $1.25. If you get there soon you might still be able to score the cinnamon whirl loaf covered in frosting I left for you.
Deli – Buying meat from the deli is fresher, less preserved than the packaged meats, and when on sale is at the same price or less. This week was kind of a let down as the big item was deli sliced cheeses. Still, a pound of Hormel(water added…sigh) Ham was less than $3/pd so I soaked my sorrow in a half pound of sliced hard salami. That makes missing out on such delights as honey smoked turkey bearable.
There ya go. A week in the life of our family’s shopping. With a total of 31 items at $52.96, I came in at 46 cents over budget but last week we were under so it all comes out in the end. Incidentally my grocery list had only 12 items in the beginning. Depending on the response, maybe this will be a recurring entry or might end up in someone’s high school research report. That is…if they ever make something as important as Home Ec classes a requirement again in school.